Republicans Call Out Newsom For What He Left Out In His State Of The State

California Gov. Gavin Newsom delivers his State of the State address to a joint session of the legislature on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, POOL)

Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom was singularly focused on the issue of homelessness in his annual State of the State address today, laying out a raft of plans to address shelter construction, mental health care and local government accountability, among other things.

Newsom called the homelessness situation in "the richest state in the richest nation" a "disgrace." His Republican rivals basically agreed, differing only on where to place the blame.

The Republican response to Newsom's speech came from Senate Republican Caucus Chair Brian Jones (El Cajon), who criticized the governor on issues of transparency and accountability while asking him to explain an increase in the state's homeless population even as those numbers have otherwise decreased nationwide.

"What Governor Newsom presented today was another expensive vision, but, before he proposes more, where did last year's $1.2 billion go, and when can Californians expect to see results?"

Jones also faulted the governor for missing an opportunity to address other important issues facing Californians:

On a dip in housing construction:

A year ago Newsom promised a bold "Marshall Plan" for affordable housing, vowing to create 3.5 million new housing units by 2025. Jones claimed that instead construction has decreased for the first time in 10 years.

"Californians expected to hear from the governor a plan to make it easier to build. A plan to make building a less expensive, lengthy and litigious process. A plan to streamline and reform CEQA so it's not just a cudgel deployed to delay or kill housing projects. A plan to lower permitting costs, and a plan to stop Democrats from piling on mandates that only increase the cost of building... Rather than any specific plan, Californians got a bumper sticker: 'It's time for California to say yes to housing.'

On the high-speed rail project:

Oh, high-speed rail. The costs are in the billions, and the project has been fraught with delays and accusations of mismanagement.

"With projected costs now more than doubling-from $34 billion in the 2008 plan to $80.3 billion in the just-released plan-there is a growing chorus of Democrats joining Republicans in pointing out that the new business plan will not deliver what was promised to California voters... Californians needed to hear from Governor Newsom why he believes that continuing down this failed track is still the right thing to do."

On the new contractor law:

Assembly Bill 5 was intended to protect vulnerable workers in the gig economy by making it harder for companies to classify them as independent contractors rather than employees. The bill has been met with resistance from ride-share companies like Uber and from certain freelancers, including writers, photographers, musicians and other artists.

Jones cited a Legislative Analyst report estimating that nearly 1 million independent workers could be impacted by the bill.

"The governor's answer to this Democrat-created jobs crisis-allocate $22 million for strict enforcement of this devastating new law... Gov. Newsom completely ignored this critical issue affecting one million freelance workers. His speech could have included plans to repeal and replace AB 5 to preserve independent jobs in California and the livelihoods of entrepreneurial Californians. Where's his vaunted big-hearted empathy for California's one million independent freelance workers?"

On the drought:

A dry winter means California is once again beginning to face drought conditions.

"Drought-like conditions devastate not only agricultural communities, but also increase the state's wildfire risk... Why was this important issue completely ignored? Also, where is the water storage Californians were promised after the last five-year drought?"

Read what Newsom said in the State of the State: